Human Exceptionalism

Scandal of the Unasked Question: How Nitschke Tested the “Peaceful Pill”

Secondhand Smokette was on CNN’s Reliable Sources yesterday, and she brought up a point in the Ayers/Obama controversy–the particulars of which are not relevant here–that was worth the price of tuning in. When Howard Kurtz asked her to justify her remark that a NYT story on the William Ayers/Obama connection was superficial–even though it mentioned their working together on an education project funded by the Annenberg Foundation–she replied that nobody asked what was actually done with all that money, surely a relevant matter in the election. Even Kurtz and liberal NYT columnist Frank Rich had to agree.

Let’s call this phenomenon–which is now widespread across the advocacy media–“the scandal of the unasked question.” And it is applied not only in the presidential campaign but ubiquitously across the wide swath of matters we discuss here at SHS, such as assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research, food and fluids cases, anti-human environmental extremism, etc, in which media have clearly picked good guys and bad guys.

Here’s an example from today’s news stories: The media overwhelmingly favor assisted suicide and it shows in their reporting, including in the way certain questions go unasked. Thus, when Australia’s death-on-demand fanatic Phillip Nitschke announced he has developed a suicide concoction called the “peaceful pill” (funded in part by the Hemlock Society, now Compassion and Choices), and intends to publish a how-to-commit suicide handbook online so anyone who wants to commit suicide can do so, the media blandly report the story and don’t do any probing. From the story:

A banned book which details how to die peacefully will be launched online by Australian voluntary euthanasia advocate Dr Philip Nitschke. Dr Nitschke describes the Peaceful Pill eHandbook as a compilation of the “most reliable and peaceful methods” used to end life. “We’ve gone through the ones that are used and we’ve looked at the best,” he told AAP

Doesn’t that beg an obvious question: How does he know? Has he tested these so-called peaceful methods? If so, how? On people? On animals? Inquiring minds want to know.

Except that the media only exhibit inquiring minds in certain directions and against certain personalities, e.g. “Is Sarah Palin really the mother of Trig?” Stories that could call their favored issues into question, such as the compasssssion of assisted suicide just don’t rank that kind of pointed inquiry.

As I see it, on a wide swath of important societal issues and political campaigns, the media know what they don’t want to know. And that is what gives rise to the scandal of the unasked question.